Artists > Carlos Hiller . . . . . . Resident Artist > Carlos Hiller Press
JUEVES 10 DE MAYO 2012
In Santa Fe, a town north of Buenos Aires, Argentina, a group of children wanted to go to meet the sea. They made a raft, got aboard, and tossed it into a tributary of the Rio de la Plata. Their adventure took them into the ocean.
One of those children was Carlos Hiller, an artist who came to Costa Rica over 20 years ago.
Here, the Argentine-Costa Rican learned to snorkel and dive. "At that time my paintings were flooded with the beauty in the sea. I could not help but to paint," he said.
Since then he dreamed of visiting an island with turquoise in the palette. "For anyone who loves the sea, Cocos Island is a representation of paradise," said Hiller.
That opportunity came as a tourist in 2008. The ship arrived in the early morning and anchored at the island Manuelita, near Chatham Bay. Hiller went on deck and watched the sun rise onto the rocks while the birds rose in flight. "I could not hold back tears. I cried like a little boy in front of everyone," he said. He added, "One can dream of visiting Cocos Island, and when it’s finally done, it's ….....," the artist cannot even finish the sentence, as he is filled with awe.
Volunteering: "That first trip also reinforced the knowledge that it gave to my art. I started doing the first paintings of the island, and began to visit as a volunteer, " he said.
In May 2011, the artist came to the national park with brushes and paints to work with the rangers in the restoration of the volunteer house, where his art was embodied in a mural. "I came for 15 days, but stayed a month," said Hiller.
Soon he was involved in other tasks such as patrolling against illegal fishing and collaborations with researchers for the whitetip shark tagging.
"To paint, I have to see firsthand. I have to create my experiences from these encounters with sea creatures and underwater scenery, to try to convey what it feels to be under water." Working in large format allows Hiller to perform color management which fosters an atmosphere that awakens underwater, as though you were diving at his side.
"That's why I love murals. I think it allows people to become immersed in the view, and the opportunity to experience what it feels like to encounter one of these animals," said Hiller.
Apart from the murals, the artist collaborated with the rangers and researchers, including the Misión Tiburón organization, in developing a guide for pelagic ("open sea") species of Cocos Island. The idea of this guide is to be a tool for identification of animals that get caught in fishing lines illegally entering the national park.
"Hopefully this is contributing to conservation, and to create some change in the mentality of the people," said the artist.
Bridging the gap: His dream is to do a mural in San Jose; for most Ticos know the island.
Can art become closer to the mainland? "I feel, thanks to art, as an ambassador of the wonders of Cocos Island, my paintings and murals reflect an idealization of how I see the island, and hopefully this conveys what I produce. Maybe that's the mission of my work: people see the sea as something beautiful."